Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Weekly Wednesday Rundown - 1

Welcome to the first installment of the Weekly Wednesday Rundown, where you can find everything you need to know about the current political landscape of the 2008 presidential election. From declarations to debates, from saucy scandals to practical policies, we will examine how the remaining presidential campaigns both affect and are affected by the news of the day.

Who’s Hsu with Hillary Clinton

The entertaining scandal following the Clinton campaign approached its final chapters this week. Norman Hsu, one of the Democrats biggest fundraisers, has helped bundle more than 1.2 million for Clinton’s campaign. He’s donated $260,000 of his personal money to federal Democratic candidates and PACs as well as $330,000 more at the state level. [1]

He also happens to under FBI investigation for “straw donating,” or pressuring and paying others to send money to a campaign. Hsu pleaded no contest to this investment fraud charge in 1991, but skipped out on his sentencing in 1992. Last week he turned himself in, only to go missing again when he failed to appear at his bail hearing last Wednesday.

Apparently, instead of attending court, Hsu bought a ticket and boarded an Amtrak train going from California to Illinois. He was discovered the next morning in Colorado when another passenger noticed him lying shirtless on the ground of his overnight cabin, surrounded by numerous pills. Unaware of his surroundings, he even asked Amtrak employees if he was already in jail. [2]

Clinton’s campaign changed plans this week on what to do with the money Hsu helped gather. Originally, Clinton was going to return Hsu’s $23,000 and keep the rest. The campaign now plans to return the entire $850,000 that Hsu helped bundle. [3] This is a brilliant move by the Clinton campaign. By washing her hands clean of all that “dirty” money, she appears as the noble, honest, candidate. However, she is losing a lot of money. It will be interesting to see how many of the donors donate the money back again.

The campaign took another step though, which I think may hurt Clinton in the long run. From now on, they will be doing background checks on all large donors and bundlers. [4] This is a safe plan that will cover Senator Clinton so another donation scandal is unlikely in the future. I believe it will also turn off donors to her cause. Who wants to receive a background check for giving somebody money? I’ll give you my money, and you can invade my privacy…sounds like a good deal, right? I DON’T THINK SO.

Fred Thompson couldn’t help buy chime in on this scandal, saying that Clinton should have learned from her husband’s 1996 donation scandal with Charlie Trie. [5] I think this move is a clever way to link Hillary Clinton’s scandal with Bill Clinton’s scandals. And although Thompson was talking about the scandal with Trie, everybody knows that when you mention Bill Clinton and the word scandal, everybody’s mind goes to that little (or not so little) blue dress.

Petreaus Testifies to Congress

General Petreaus testified on Capitol Hill this week regarding the surge of troops in Iraq. He took nine hours to more elegantly say what President Bush said using three words in Australia: “We’re kicking ass.” Petreaus argued that many of the objectives of the surge are “largely being met.” He also suggested a slow reduction of troop levels until we reach pre-surge numbers around July of 2008. [6]

Liberal group printed an article in the New York Times the day of the hearing, labeling the four-star General Petreaus, General BetrayUs. Many Americans on both sides of the aisle were offended by this attack. Since the group is openly liberal, the Democratic candidates have unrightfully been forced to shoulder much of the blame.

Senators McCain Biden, Clinton, and Obama received quite a bit of face time on the major networks for their comments during the hearing. Senator McCain’s campaign used Petreaus’ testimony to argue that McCain was correct to support the surge. They are looking desperately for something to kick start their slowing momentum. McCain will talk about his military experience and plans for Iraq in his upcoming No Surrender tour through Iowa. In response to General Petreaus’ testimony, Senators Clinton, Biden, and Obama (as well as most other Democratic candidates) began criticizing the President’s strategy in Iraq. Wait a second…I’m being told that they have already been doing this for the past few years. In a stalemate, a broken record does keep your name in the headlines.

On the whole, General Petreaus’ testimony benefited the Republican candidates. Good news from Iraq is beneficial those who believe we should continue the occupation. The testimony also gives candidates someone else to stand behind on this issue other than President Bush. As illustrated by the ad, the Democrats can’t gain much by bashing a four-star general.

Univision Democratic Debate

Democrats met Sunday night for a debate on Univision, probably the most popular Spanish channel in the United States. This marked the first presidential debate ever to be broadcast in Spanish, a sign many believe finally gives respect to the Hispanic American vote. As the number of Latino Americans continues to grow, this voting block is becoming more and more important.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Senator Chris Dodd from Connecticut are both able to speak Spanish. However, due to the format of the debate, both had to respond in English. Their answers were then translated into Spanish for the viewers.[7]

Break-in at Romney Headquarters

Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign headquarters in Boston were broken into this weekend. Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for the campaign said "several laptops and a TV were stolen." However, passwords and security measures should prevent any data from being recovered by the thieves. The campaign does not believe the robbers had political motives.[8]








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